12th NOVEMBER 1879

Involving Driver William Warren & Fireman Henry Miles

Depots unknown

extracted adapted from the report 

by W. Yolland Colonel

A collision that occurred at the Epsom Town station of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway, on the 12th November, between a passenger train and an engine and train of empty passenger carriages.

One passenger complained at the time of having been injured, but the collision appears to have been a very slight one, no damage having been done, either to the rolling stock or 'the permanent way, and no vehicle was thrown off the rails.


The railway at the Epsom Town station is on an easy curve to the left when looking towards London, and the up platform is about 180 yards in length. There is a siding off the up line and north of it, which joins the up line at the west end of the up platform,. and the western end of the cross-over road from the siding to the up line is about 50 yards further to the west than the end of the platform.

There is also a water crane on the up platform about 173 yards east of the west end of the up platform.

A disc-signal for controlling the coming out of trains from this siding, on to the up main line, which signal and the lever that shifts the points of the cross-over road are properly interlocked with the levers in the signal-box that work all the other points and signals in the station. This signal-box is about 130 yards east of the west end of the up platform.

In consequence of the curve in the line the view of the tail light at the rear of a passenger train, from an engine drawing an empty train from the siding along the cross-over road, is limited to about 120 yards.


Arthur Duffell, 10 months a signalman at Epsom Town station, and nearly three years in the Company's service, states: I came on duty at 6 p.m. for a 12 hours shift : after the 5.5 p.m. up passenger train from Brighton had arrived at the up platform the engine and train drew ahead at once, for the engine to take water from the crane at the north-east end of the station. That train was on its way to London Bridge, and it got here at 7.35 p.m. There was another up passenger train, 7.40 p.m. from Epsom to Victoria station, then empty, which was standing in the aiding off the up line at the south-west end of the up platform: and as there was plenty of room at the station platform for both trains to stand alongside of it, I then opened the points leading out of the siding, and shifted the disc-signal for that empty train to draw out of the siding, and to come alongside of the up platform: the driver drew out at once, and came alongside of the platform, nearly up to my signal-box. I saw the train coming about two minutes after the Brighton train arrived, but not in sufficient time to stop it before it ran into the tail of the Brighton train: it was travelling very slowly when the engine ran into the other train, and I think if there had been about 30 yards more space ahead it would have stopped in that distance. I could not see whether there was any tail light on the last vehicle· of the 5.5 p.m. up Brighton train. What was done that night was in accordance with the usual practice which train is standing alongside, and at the north-east end is followed with respect to the Victoria train at the Epsom station : that practice has always been followed since I have been at the station : I did not hear any whistle from the driver. I do not know whether t any vehicles were thrown off the rails by the collision, and I do not know whether any damage was done to the rolling stock.

William Warren, engine-driver eight years in the service of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway Company states: I was driving tender engine No.148 on the night of the 12th November. My train consisted of 10 vehicles, including two break carriages at the two ends of the train; there was no guard in the train at the time, two guards were both standing on the ip platform: the train was fitted throughout with the Westinghouse bark, except the engine; so that the only means which I had at my disposal to stop the train was the hand break on the tender; the disc signs; was turned off about 7.42 p.m. I did not whistle for it to be turned off, and as soon as it was turned off I put the train in motion, in order to draw alongside of the platform; when I started the train, I had the cylinder cocks open, in order to let the water out of the cylinders, and having no instructions that any train was due, and no shunter with me, I did not see any light ahead until just before I came slightly into collision with the Brighton train, thinking that that train had already gone away from the station. My train was standing in the siding when the Brighton train arrived, about two minutes before I got the signal to come out of the siding. I only saw a tail light on the train ahead, just before the collision took place; I was running at the time about 4 miles an hour, hardly that; no vehicles in either train were thrown off the rails, and no vehicles in either train were thrown off the rails, and no damage was done to any of the vehicles in either train. A shunter generally tells us when a train is standing alongside, and at the north-east end of the up platform. No one on the platform called out or signalled to me to stop. I did not know that it was the practice for the 7.40 p.m. train to draw up to the platform behind the Brighton train; I have never taken a passenger train out of that siding before. I had shut off the steam in order to stop before I saw the tail light; my mate applied the tender break.

Henry Miles, fireman to Willian Warren, confirmed his statement when it was read over to him. 


From the preceding statements it appears that the 5.5 p.m. up passenger train from Brighton for London Bridge, reached Epsom Town station about 7.35 p.m., and it was at once taken on, so that the engine stopped opposite to the water crane to enable the driver to take water. The last vehicle in this train stood about 30 yards west of the water crane, or 143 yards east of the west end of the up platform, when the engine stopped to take water: and about two minutes after it arrived the signalman shifted the points of the cross-over road, and turned the disc-signal, as an intimation to the driver of the empty passenfr train that was standing in the siding, that he was to draw out of the siding an come alongside of the up platform, to form a passenger train from Epsom to Victoria station, there being abundance of room for this train to stand behind and without interfering with the Brighton train for London Bridge.

The driver obeyed the signal to come out of the siding, but did not observe the tail light on the last vehicle of the Brighton train until he was close to it, and in

.consequence he ran into the Brighton train at a speed of about 4 miles an hour.
He endeavoured to excuse himself by stating that he was attending to the cylinder feed cocks, that the shunter was not with him, and that he had not been told that the London Bridge train was still standing alongside of the platform: but it is quite evident that he was not keeping any look-out ahead, aa the tail light could have been seen at a distance of 120 yards, about 30 yards before he got off the cross-over road on to the up main line. He saw the Brighton train arrive about two minutes before

he started to come out from the siding.
The collision was the result of his carelessness in not keeping a proper look-out


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